Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Compassion...Thoughts on Kenya, Part 1

I'm back from my mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya, and this is the first in a series of posts about what I saw and experienced while I was there. I hope these thoughts are a blessing to you.

Compassion is a gift from God. It moves us to move toward others. It is the force that drives us to act on our love...to do something tangible that can make a difference and make someone's life better. It's the driving force behind every miracle Jesus did. And it is a power that we can draw on daily to touch the people we meet right where we are at any given moment.

I realized the power of compassion in a new way during my January 2010 mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya. I am privileged to work for a ministry that allows me to travel with its medical mission team. I get to write about the trip, take photos, and blog...which I love doing. But it's also a privilege to go because I get to learn more about what the life of Jesus must have been like. This time around, I felt a little bit of what Jesus must have felt when he was surrounded by crowds of people who needed miracles to change the quality of their life. And I saw it in one person...a man named Martin.

Martin was among the first patients to be treated at the clinic in Huruma, one of Nairobi's slums. We arrived at the staging site early in the morning, but we didn't get there first. Martin beat us there. He was already waiting for the gates to open…and he came looking for a miracle. It was easy to see why. This grown man’s left leg was withered and rendered useless due to polio that afflicted him at age 5, and he can’t walk as a grown man should walk. He has to crawl on all fours. He has to wear shoes on his hands as well as his feet. I looked at him and thought, God never intended this.

The sight of Martin broke my heart in a way that doesn't often happen. My first impulse was to reach out and touch him, to heal him. No doubt Jesus felt the same way when He looked at hurting people. He must also have thought to Himself, My Father never intended this. That knowledge, plus love, is what led God the Father to reach out to us. It led Jesus to reach out. And it moves me to want to help people. I want to help Martin. I want to be available to God, so that God can help Martin.

A simple medical clinic isn’t nearly enough to cure this man. He really does need a miracle. In treating him, one of our team members, Dr. Tim, discovered that Martin had never accepted Jesus as Lord, so he told Martin about Jesus and then led him in prayer to give his life to Jesus. Afterward, Martin was beaming. Dr. Tim told him, “You’re smiling because you have Jesus now.” Martin leftthe clinic having enjoyed the greatest miracle of all—salvation.

The most amazing thing to me is that Martin's salvation isn’t a clich√©. It's not a cop out. It's not "the best we can do since we couldn't heal him." Martin reminds me that physical healing alone isn’t a complete healing. People need to be healed in their hearts and minds too. And Martin has received what he needs most on the inside. He has joy. He has peace now. What a gift that is. And how often we don’t appreciate it. But Martin did. The compassion of God changed that man inside, where no one but God can truly reach.

I think I want more of that compassion to drive my life forward and lead me...

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